SOUTH AFRICAN BASED VISUAL
ARTIST CARMEN TOSCA REDISCOVERS HER LOVE FOR
MUSICAL COMPOSITION ON THE
DEEP TEXTURES OF HER
NEW AGE/AMBIENT/ELECTRONICA DEBUT ‘WIND’
Growing up in the South African capital of Pretoria, Carmen Tosca’s life was hugely influenced by music. Considering that “Carmen” means “song” and “Tosca” is a Puccini opera, it’s a good bet her ultimate destiny was set long before she started piano lessons at five and began playing pop songs by ear in high school. Yet the multi-talented performer who is at last emerging with her independent debut new age/ambient/electronic CD Wind put her early piano training and love for pop and classical aside for many years to focus on developing the visual side of her artistry.
In 2007, a handful of years after launching her successful photography business Tosca Studio, she found new inspiration in the Swedish film “As It Is In Heaven,” the story of a music conductor whose wish was to open people’s hearts through music. Not wishing to put these passions aside any longer, she returned to the Garageband software on her computer and began composing a coolly percussive electronic new age 7-minute track that is now the title track and centerpiece of her collection.
While she recorded most of the 11 remarkable tracks in her home studio, she completed and mastered it during a length visit to the U.S. Perhaps the greatest irony about the remarkable project RadioIndy calls “well written compositions (that) mingle gracefully around various instruments, creating a beautiful blend of songs with New Age style” is the fact that it wasn’t even planned. Carmen was simply so motivated that after spending hours developing “Wind” from the original piano composition she wrote several years earlier, she began developing older, unfinished compositions and writing new songs until a full length recording emerged.
“Sunday Afternoon,” “Believe” and “Slow Motion” were also piano compositions from years ago, while “New Life,” “Emma,” “Dance With Light” and “Il pleure dans mon Coeur” are newer songs and “Waves” was a spirit of the moment composition. Capturing the rich spontaneity of Carmen’s creative process, she says about “Waves” that she “just played with the record button on for eight minutes and there was the song, but it isn’t something I can play again now!” “Believe” is a vocal track she originally wrote and recorded for her own wedding and it played as she walked down the aisle. “Il pleure…” takes its title from an 1874 French poem by Paul Verlaine which she studied at school; it means “it’s raining in my heart”—an apt description of her emotions while writing it. “Emma” which means “Universal” and “Complete” is the name Carmen will give a daughter if she ever has one, while “Dance With Light” embraces the magical connections between her other two creative passions, photography and dance.
“With the exception of ‘Emma’ and ‘New Life’ I don’t give my songs a name beforehand,” Carmen says. “I finish the piece and then think about what feelings it provokes, and sometimes halfway through I start getting ideas for the title. My main goal is always stylistic diversity and the pieces on Wind represent snapshots of my life. I find it co-incidental that the same word ‘composition’ is used for painting and artwork as well as a piece of music. So while it’s difficult to try to explain the difference between my two worlds, I would say that photography is purely a visual beauty while music stirs much more emotion. Music also links to memories in which more feelings can surface.”
Carmen started doing photography after a long soul search in creating a vision and purpose for her life. At that time, eight years ago, she was working as a web and graphic designer and after completing a short course in photography, she realized that it perfectly complemented what she was already doing; shortly thereafter, she began freelancing and established Tosca Studio. Although Carmen’s photographs have been featured in newspapers and magazines, her focus and passion is on the artistic and not commercial side of photography. Her many travels have enabled her to capture images that resonate different feelings, from the poverty stricken sun-drenched Brazilian favellas (slums), to the majestic castles in icy Scotland. Among her successful exhibitions is Portals, a series of photographs she took in France in 2006. Using the theme of doors, Carmen explored the way people’s hearts and souls are touched and formed through emotions they experience and how they allow others to influence them.
“The Portals theme was completely separate from the album Wind,” she says. “I was in the South of France when I took the doors and windows photos and while I was on the bus the metaphor hit me: ‘If there is a door to your heart, which one are you?’ I wrote this down and two years later started working on the exhibition, which, ironically enough was at the same time I was recording the album. When I play something and it sounds good, and in the end you have a melody or composition that people enjoy listening to, that is both the fulfilling and rewarding part of making music. It’s wonderful when you are happy with what you’ve achieved and again when it can mean something for someone else. Visual art is static. It is there, but you stop noticing it after a while, but music like the Wind itself stays alive.”
- Jonathan Widran Enterprises